The Baldwin Braves boys’ soccer team lost its skilled striker in the third game last year. An opposing player’s leg kick sent Oscar Vergara out of the picture with a broken right leg.
“I remember breaking my leg and just knowing that my season was over. As soon as I got kicked, I knew it was broken because I felt it,” Vergara said.
The senior Brave has a rod stabilizing the bone. Recovery was painful due to nerve damage causing random shots of pain.
It took the team captain nearly a year to get into game shape.
“Going from barely being able to walk to running is a long process,” Vergara said.
He claims the left leg became more efficient since the break.
Vergara’s six goals in Baldwin’s first three games this season show the difference one key player can make. The four-goal East Laurens performance earned the senior UR Athlete of the Week.
Braves head coach Clayton McClendon believes in his player.
“He’s a model soccer player. Just having his presence on the field is huge. Having him in these few games, we’ve probably outscored what we did all of last year,” McClendon said.
The athlete thanks God for the opportunity to get better and play the game he loves.
McClendon said Vergara brings a winning, goal-oriented attitude each day and is more than coachable. A preseason statement caught the coach’s attention.
“We were talking about our team goals, and before I could get it out Oscar said his team goal was a state championship. I liked that,” McClendon said. “That’s what really impressed me about him is that he goes ahead and says I’m going to work hard, and we are going to do what we need to do.”
McClendon said Vergara epitomizes the finishing mindset, as the Brave athlete capitalizes on most goal scoring moments.
Baldwin’s soccer stud enjoys team ball. He’s much rather help others than showboat.
Teaching teammates where to be and when helps the collective outcome.
“I don’t try to do everything by myself,” Vergara said. “I’m a team player.”
The Braves coach describes his No. 1 striker as levelheaded.
“He doesn’t have a falsehood that he’s a superstar. He knows he’s got things to improve,” McClendon said.
Baldwin sports a 3-0 record currently. If the team follows Vergara’s model, the Braves might make good on that region title promise.
Dedication during drills and outside of required soccer time is important to the athlete of the week. He’s refined a passion for soccer since early days growing up in California.
Finding a collegiate soccer home is a reality.
“Soccer is my dream. I’d love to go pro one day,” Vergara said. “Of course, I’d like to go to college. Whichever one that would take me would be the best.”
For now, an opening region win at Howard March 6 persists in the short term. Baldwin plays a heavy road schedule this spring.
“We have to play our game. It’d be good to get a win to give us some confidence in the region,” Vergara said.